Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck Dynasty, homophobia, and Spanish moss

Who would've thought that a family of backwater rednecks would make a huge splash in the entertainment world?   Who would've ever guessed these backwater, ZZ Top wanna-be rednecks would set the radio and TV airwaves on fire?

Ok, we'll admit it.   None of us ever watched Duck Dynasty.   With all the hype over family patriarch Phil Robertson's most recent comments, we now know more about Duck Dynasty than we care to know and still have no desire to watch the show - with or without Phil.   Maybe it's just us.   We expect to see Spanish moss hanging from the Louisiana tree branches, not people's chins.   We simply can't relate to the characters.

Phil Robertson's comments made to GQ magazine

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”


“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

brought a decision by A&E, the cable station carrying the Duck Dynasty show, to put Phil Robertson on an indefinite hiatus and the decision set the conservative talk show circuit on fire.

What is getting overlooked in the fray is Phil Robertson's implication that Blacks were happier and worked side-by-side with Whites in the pre-welfare/food stamp era.  

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Think about that.   In Phil Robertson's world, segregation, unjust jailings, unduly harsh sentencings, and lynchings never happened. Blacks were happy until we brought around the welfare and food stamp programs.   Does his denial of the harsh realities of our treatment of Black people, particularly Black people in the South when he was much younger, sound familiar?   We only need to point to Iran and the government's official denial that the Holocaust ever happened as an example.   Funny thing.   Those Muslim Inmans have Spanish moss hanging from their chins, too.  

The racist comment, however, hasn't created the stir.   His homophobic comments are what has set the conservative world, particularly the conservative Christian world, in a tizzy.  Yes, we categorize his statements as homophobic, but we have to give a little background in our philosophy to justify why we view Phil Robertson's (and all of his supporters') comments as homophobic.

First, from a non-religious standpoint, we accept as fact that gay people don't choose to be gay any more than straight people choose to be straight.   There's plenty of scientific evidence that backs up the claim of every single gay person out there - they didn't choose to be gay; they were born gay. We won't regurgitate all the studies here, but we challenge anyone who believes homosexuality is a choice to provide the scientific evidence to back up the claim.

Second, we maintain that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality.   Please, don't waste your time quoting all those verses and "clobber passages" as evidence.   Each and everyone of them are condemning certain sex acts, but not homosexuality in one broad stroke.   And just because your new Bible includes the words "homosexual" and "homosexuality" does not make the verse "God's word."   We reject any Bible that includes these late 19th century words because substituting a word defining a sexual orientation in place of a word that described a specific sex act greatly alters the meaning of what God told us.   God made it clear we were not to change even one word of His, so we maintain that any Bible using the word "homosexual" or "homosexuality" is a bible of a false prophet.

If God had really meant homosexuality is an abomination, the only way we could justify God's stance would be to claim gay people choose to be gay.  Since the scientific evidence cannot back up the choice claim, as good Christians (or as good as we try to be), we had no choice but to go back to the Bible and let the Holy Spirit guide us in trying to understand what God really wanted us to know.   Our only other choice would be to follow the false prophets, condemn gays for who they are, and continue to put our faith in a petty god who purposely created gay people so the rest of us would have someone to bully and blame for all the social and moral ills of our society.   We chose the former path.

Now look at what Phil Robertson said.  Very crudely, he broke a couple's relationship down to sex, and sex only.   Men who love women are good.   Men who love men are bad and are the cause of the perceived moral decay in our society.   Gay men are no better than people who have sex with animals and then he paraphrased Corinthians to compare gay people to drunks, adulterers, swindlers and so on.   Most importantly, in paraphrasing Corinthians, he said, "...homosexual offenders...."   That is not what Paul said two-thousand years ago when he wrote the verse.   In fact, there is good evidence in the structure of the verse and Paul's choice of words that he is condemning male prostitutes, males who sleep with male prostitutes, and the slave traders who provided the male prostitutes.

Now, let's look at how the conservative talking heads handled Phil Robertson's controversial and, as far as we're concerned, homophobic comments.

Almost every talking head blasts A&E's decision to suspend Phil Robertson from the show indefinitely and blasts GLAAD for pushing A&E to make the suspension decision.  Phil Robertson has a right to free speech, the arguments go, and he shouldn't be punished for expressing his beliefs.

First, GLAAD didn't issue a call to action. The organization merely exercised their right to free speech and issued a public statement.

"Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe," GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz said. "He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans -- and Americans -- who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors, who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families."

Some conservative talking heads went so far as to label GLAAD and those who fight for gay rights as "militant gays."  Matt Walsh, formerly of WZBH, formerly of WGMD, and now formerly of WLAP, a man who obviously can't hold a job down, went so far as to label GLAAD "militant neo-liberal thought police."

Ok, if GLAAD and gay activists exercise their free speech rights and are labeled as "militant neo-liberal thought police" or "militant gays", does that mean when a Christian organization issues a statement, it is a "neo-conservative thought police" organization and is Phil Robertson a "militant Christian"?  

Of course, A&E has felt the wrath of the conservative Christians. Shortly after the controversy hit the airwaves, and before GLAAD could issue a call to action, much less threaten a lawsuit, A&E suspended Phil Robertson indefinitely.

"We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."

The station has been accused of censoring religious beliefs, bowing to the pressures of the "militant gays", and some talking heads and supporters of Phil Robertson are calling for a boycott of the station.

Umm, wait a minute.   Wasn't it just recently that you conservative, Christian, talking heads blasted a court decision concerning a Christian baker's decision not to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple by citing the argument that a business has a right to conduct the business as the owner sees fit?   If the gay couple didn't like the business practice, they should simply go to another bakery. 

A&E made a business decision. If you don't like the business decisions and practices of A&E, simply switch stations.   Or does the argument that a business has a right to do business as it sees fit only apply to Christian-owned businesses and everyone else needs to play by the Christian rules else face boycotts or maybe even legal action?

The list of leading conservative republicans rushing to Phil Robertson's defense with the same hypocritical, circular reasoning being echoed up and down the radio and TV dials is growing.   Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, are a few.  Glen Beck has offered the Robertson family a spot on his online Blaze TV network.  Newt Gingrich went so far as to compare Phil Robertson to the Pope. C'mon, really, the Pope?    

On the local front, we stomached about two minutes worth of Dan Gaffney on WXDE 105.9 Talk Radio.   We lost any respect we had for his show back last summer when a local Church was denied a permit to use the town's bandstand.   Gaffney spent two weeks blasting the reputation of the town manager for denying the request, a civil servant who served the town honorably for over thirty years and was about to retire; refused to accept the fact that there were valid reasons for the denial (two being the pastor didn't apply for the bandstand's use through the proper channels and the bandstand was already booked); and then Gaffney, after much grandstanding, failed to show up for the support rally the pastor and his followers hastily put together.  

We switched to WZBH's The Worse Show Ever with Crank, Phoebus, and Sarah.   Of all the talking heads we listened to over the course of two days, we have to admit that The Worse Show Ever attempted to handle the controversy most delicately.  Even though WZBH is Delmarva's mainstream (and only) rock station, the jock lineup is almost exclusively young, White, conservative, Christian male.

The Worse Show Ever has two of them and a token, conservative White female.  Sarah doesn't get to say much because she knows her place among the conservative, Christian males.   While we admit the morning crew at WZBH tried to handle the controversy as delicately as they could, they still failed miserably.   Two like-minded hosts with a like-minded, token female in the wings amounts to a one-dimensional discussion.

Case in point: Phoebus claimed he knows gay people and treats them with respect.   The token female, Sarah, boosted Phoebus' claim by stating that she admired Phoebus for going out of his way not to offend the gay people he knows.   Yet, as a good, robotic, conservative Christian, the hard fact is homosexuals are sinners and won't be going to heaven.  

Sound familiar?   Yeah, that's the tactic Phil Robertson took.   (Paraphrased): "Homosexuals are an abomination in God's eyes, that is fact, but, hey, I treat all people equally so I'm not judging them"

Umm, yes, Phil Robertson, Crank, Phoebus, Sarah, and the rest of Phil Robertson supporters, you are judging and you're not treating gays equally.  If you did treat gays equally, you wouldn't make an effort to single out gays as horrible sinners destroying the moral fabric of our society simply because of who they are.   Instead, you would single out people who choose to act in immoral ways and then pretend the behavior is the right way to act.

In this article, alone, we have singled out the false prophets, followers of false prophets, liars, hypocrites, and bigots.

Hey, but we still respect you and we're not judging you!

Sounds kind of hollow, huh?   Now you know why many gay and straight people find Phil Robertson's remarks hurtful and hateful and why they find the commentary in defense of Phil Robertson equally, if not more so, hurtful and hateful.

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

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